Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Day dinner on Christmas Eve

Our normal Christmas tradition here has become a seafood platter on Christmas Eve and our main festive meal eaten on Christmas Day. This year we reversed the order as we went to visit Chateau Chenonceau on the 25th with friends  Susan & Simon.

Walking up to the approach to the chateau
Simon had cleverly found out that the chateau was open on Christmas Day and it seemed a much better idea to enjoy an afternoon wandering round the grounds and chateau than sit at home in front of a TV showing endless "Christmas Specials" of dubious quality.
'Classic' view of Chenonceau in full winter sun
So on Christmas Eve we roasted our canette, which we ate with a mirabelle purée [made with our own mirabelles], rosemary & honey roast parsnips, haricots verts and a spiced red wine jus. The recipes for the red wine jus and the mirabelle purée were from the chef at The Devonshire Arms Hotel in Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire. Both were easy to follow and tasted great, though to be honest I didn't follow the jus recipe to the letter. For afters we had warm pears which had been poached in white wine, vanilla & star anise with vanilla ice cream.
A virtually empty long gallery
Stunning tree at the end of the gallery over the river
Round about 12:30 Susan and Simon arrived and off we went to Chenonceau for the afternoon. We'd visited the chateau before in the run up to Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, if we can, we avoid visiting it in summer at all costs as it is such a busy place.
Vaulted entrance hall with super decorations made up with red roses
One of the best decorations: the dressed table in the servant's dining hall
Although there were a few more people than we expected it was still pretty quiet; and, best of all the weather co-operated! For the first time in days we had blue skies and sun.
Lovely tree with Louis XIV lurking in the background
Chapel decorated as a winter wonderland
To get the best of the daylight we had a wander round the park and gardens first. We were worried that the visit would be a bit of a bore for Susan as she and Simon must have lost count of the number of times they have shown clients round! However, she pointed out that Simon stays with the car and she can never have a good look round on her own terms on these occasions and assured us it wasn't a Busman's holiday.
Last of the winter sun catching the top of Chenonceau
We left as it was growing dark and on the way home we stopped in the village of Sublaines to watch the international space station pass high above us in the sky -- an excellent Christmas Day.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas 2014

Season's Greetings!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas
All Good Things for 2015

Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting on our blog. We've really enjoyed all our exchanges and it is a such a pleasure to share bits of our life here in Charnizay with you.
See you all in 2015! 
Niall & Antoinette and the furries, one of whom got herself into the photo above :-) !

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Dunsapie Loch

Firstly our apologies for such a long break between posts. Things have simply been extremely busy and we've been over to the UK for a visit with family and friends as well. The result is that we have rather fallen off the 'posting bandwagon'. We will try to 'resume normal service' from now on :-)

Dunsapie Loch with the Firth of Forth and commercial shipping in the distance
While in Edinburgh we made a point of driving up to Dunsapie Loch, a favourite stopping place for those who want to climb up to Arthur's Seat 'via the back way'. It's a small lake cupped in the hills which are, in fact, the remains of a long extinct volcano.

The waterfowl & gulls get lots of tidbits
The whole area is always alive with runners, walkers and cyclists, as it offers a fabulous outdoor recreational space right in the heart of Endiburgh.

Iron Age fort remains exist on top of the hill above the loch
The area is also rich in ancient history -- there are traces of four Iron Age forts. At one side of the lake is a very helpful information panel which explains their locations.

Very useful if, like us, you know little about the Iron Age

Second of four Iron Age forts, just below and to the left of Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat - always busy with walkers.
The weather was superb and while we were there a never-ending stream of runners swept past, obviously using their lunch break to good advantage. In between visiting friends we enjoyed our brief stroll around.